Better than Insteon?

I’ve been using Insteon devices, with a PLM (via USB) and I find it to be very unreliable.

My main complaints are:

  1. the PLM seems to disconnect every couple days, and it the insteonPLM driver doesn’t recover from that
  2. the lights are not reliable (group scenes often don’t turn off ‘all’ the lights for instance).
  3. the devices themselves seem to be failure prone.
  4. slow speed. The devices seem to react slowly (sometimes).

I am very seriously considering replacing all my lights with new ones. Does anybody have any recommendation for me? I’m really looking for something that is as feature rich as Insteon, but more reliable and faster and has solid integration with openHAB.


It might depend on how the house is wired, but I’ve been using Insteon PLM (USB) for 2 years without the problems you describe, expect maybe for the speed at times when controlling many devices at once. My house is a virtual Faraday cage so it’s been more effective for me than a purely wireless protocol.

It could be that my PLM is quite old… maybe it’s starting to fail.

And by old I mean… many years… I don’t know how many… maybe 5?

FWIW, I tried the hub… but that has not been very reliable either.

I have Insteon as well, and have for a long time. I have found several things that contribute to what you are describing:

  • Stale bindings: You have things bound to each other and to devices that no longer exist
  • Lots of extra messages: I am troubleshooting this now, where OH continuously sends “ON” or “OFF” messages every 5 seconds, swamping the net
  • Old PLM - starting to fail

I would recommend replacing the PLM and factory-resetting all your switches, and re-binding them. I know this sounds like a real PITA, but it has significantly improved performance…

Also, are your devices dual-band? I found that new electronics make a lot of noise on the power lines, so I added filters to the big ones - washer/dryer/fridge/server rack. That also helped. I only run dual-band so that might be an option for you as well.

Hope this helps,


Thanks for the reply, I think you’re on the right track.

  1. stale bindings… I loaded up Indigo (Mac) and reviewed the links in the devices and there are tons of stale (unreachable) bindings in many of my devices.
  2. Not sure about that… atm, I’m just trying to get my PLM working properly (no openHAB - just insteon-terminal and Indigo)
  3. old PLM, I think you’re right here too. I have issues with my PLM dropping the USB connection and I think that’s hardware related. I’m ordering a new one.
    Mine says v. 1.0 – so I’m thinking that’s pretty old?

Forgot to add, yes, my devices are all dual-band, so I don’t think I need a FilterLinc

One more question… I’m looking at my devices (after re-setting them) and many of them are old as well (i2 engine instead of i2cs)… will that make a difference? Should I upgrade my dimmers?

My thought is if it isn’t broken, don’t worry about it until it is. Insteon is not cheap, but I have found it to be VERY reliable and very very flexible. I have not used anything else (well, other than X10 before that).

I did find that periodically, OH was not able to access /dev/ttyUSB0 on my RasPi platform. I would periodically have to reset the permissions until I found in the install guide where I missed a setup (lol). It has been better since that as well.

I have a lot of different devices - door contacts (old and the drill-ins), motion detectors, IOLincs, switches, keypads, even lightbulbs. I need OH since it is the only platform that supports all the deep granularity of Insteon use cases, but OH lacks a lot of other things I like so I am combining OH and other platforms with MQTT in the middle, and it is, so far, looking like the perfect (for me) combination.

Good luck!


I’ve been using Insteon now for over a year and have also found it to be very reliable. My guess would be that you may have noisy items on your power lines or too great of a distance between Insteon items. Any time I’ve had issues with one Insteon device communicating to another it’s because it was too far from all other devices and on a different power phase. As soon as I add a device in the middle everything works great again.

I wouldn’t give up on Insteon as it’s usually a pretty good protocol. It has its pitfalls but I’ve mostly enjoyed using it and depending on what you’re controlling they offer devices other manufacturers just don’t offer, like keypads and ceiling fan controllers. If you keep having issues with devices not responding try using the repeater modules and if you have switches near devices that create a lot of noise on the power line try the power filter module on that device. I’ve never needed them but I know for some that really helps.

I’m not sure that I’m a good example because I only have one dimmer and the two plug in dimmers that came with my starter kit, but Insteon has been working better than I expected so far.
I didn’t read that the PLM is supposed to be better than the hub until after I had already ordered the starter kit, so I wasn’t expecting status updates without polling. To my surprise, OH is updated within a second or two of a manual switch.

I needed to create a 3 way setup that would work without a hub or controller when we sell the house. Caseta didn’t seem to provide options for good local control and compatible hubs were far more expensive.

The PLM disconnecting every couple of days, that’s exactly how my PLM started to act before it finally croaked.
I used the InsteonTerminal to make a backup of the modem database so I did not have to relink all my devices. Then I replaced the capacitors on the power supply.

Yes, the speed can be slow at times. I wonder how that is with other protocols (Z-Wave for example).

I have about 100 switches in my house, and only 2-3 have really failed hard over a period of 4 years. Occasionally they “hang up” or get into a funky state. Power cycling them by flipping the breaker (or pulling the button out on the switch, kinda tricky) resets them, and they keep working afterwards, no need to replace. Still not very confidence inspiring.

Follow up on the thread… I’ve performed the following steps:

  1. Replaced the PLM modem with a new one
  2. Updated all my old switches that used i2 protocol to i2cs.
  3. Removed every single link to a bogus/broke/missing/?? device that any of my switches had (and there were a LOT)

That seems to have made the entire system more robust. I also got insteon-terminal (thanks @Bernd_Pfrommer) working on the Mac and that has made a world of difference, and really gotten me thinking about the possibilities.

@johnofcamas I am looking at a new home install and am considering Insteon. What advice, if any, would you have now almost a year since you have had this issue? I appreciate your follow up on what you did to fix your issues.

What I am having the hardest time is… Insteon devices are not cheap. I do not want to have to replace my PLM or HUB every 2 - 4 years. Ideally, it’s one and done for a period of time. I know ideal and electronics don’t always work together. I work in IT and my experience tells me that you can have devices show up DOA or have devices that go on for many years.

Thanks for any advice!



I recently had troubles with my Insteon PLM. First it was flaky, randomly not working, but a reboot would fix it. Then eventually it just stopped working all together. I ended up replacing the capacitors in the unit as described on the link below, and it totally fixed the problem.